Robert D. Mather, Ph.D.

TheConservativeSocialPsychologist.com Blog
A View From the Front Line of Welfare

There are many conservatives who work in mental health as counselors, therapists, and social workers. Outnumbered by liberal ideology, they are men and women who go to work each day to help others. In doing so they often find new rules of behavior and an increasingly oppressive infiltration of progressive ideology that condemns conservative viewpoints. Additionally, they are uniquely positioned to see the failings of many government welfare programs.

 

Here I interview one of those conservatives on the front line of social work. Due to concerns about employment, he is presented anonymously here. His words are his own, not mine. But his perspective is interesting and worth hearing. Here is my interview with him.

 

Q: Given that you are politically outnumbered in your discipline, please reveal as much or as little as you wish to disclose about yourself in answering these questions. What are some of your notable work experiences? Have you served in the military or law enforcement?

A: I served in the Navy for 4 years, from 1991-1995, with 2 Persian Gulf tours on warships. I also am a retired police officer, with 17.3 years of service. I have also worked for HHSC (welfare office) and the social security administration.

 

Q: What is your political affiliation? Who did you vote for during the past several presidential elections?

A: Republican, I have voted for the Republican candidate every time, with the last exception being when Ross Perot ran as an independent in 1992. I voted for Perot that time.

 

Q: What are the general politics of your co-workers? What about the politics of the people you serve?

A: I would think 80+% are Republican…as for SSI recipients that I currently serve and the welfare people I used to serve, I would think 90% democrats. Many of them are long time benefit recipients, often going back 3 or more generations.  I do not count retirees on SSA benefits, that is not considered a social program like SSI is, since they paid into the program for at least 10 years to be able to collect on it.

 

Q: How have politics infused the work of some of these jobs?

A: We are not allowed to talk about ANY political candidate at work, to co-workers, or the public, nor can we support them on social media if our page mentions our job. (Hatch Act regulates this.)  Also, policies tend to change depending on what party controls politics…i.e. we will likely soon see a shift in benefits that illegal aliens are allowed to receive.

 

Q: Have you encountered any situations where conservative political views were discouraged and progressive views are encouraged?

A: Yes, we are forced to do some work tasks such as name change for a same sex couple, or a sex change on a person, even though it is against our political/religious views. I have also been told to not criticize a Democratic Senator (Pelosi), as federal employees are told to support them. I was threatened with disciplinary action if I made further comments.

 

Q: What changes in the political dynamics of the workplace have you seen over time?

A: None that I can think of.

 

Q: What advice do you have for conservatives who are entering a job in social work?

A: Stay out of it--common sense is not used, and it is discouraging to see people getting money from the government that they do not deserve.

 

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A: In reality, I think most people in jobs like mine don’t think that a lot of the people on benefits deserve them, but we have to follow policies, not common sense. We really just do what we have to do to keep our jobs, even though we don’t agree with it. Case in point, I worked a Medicaid case where the lady a lived in a $500k house, drove a brand new, paid for Cadillac Escalade, got $4,000 per month in child support…but both her kids qualified for CHIP, since child support does not count as income, and resources are not looked at. So, I was making $28,000 per year working there, but had to pay for insurance for myself and my child, but she got it free. Very disheartening! It is the type of job that you don’t necessarily get on purpose, a lot of people just “fell into” a job there.

Goodbye, Mr. Limbaugh

For a few months of the pandemic of 2020, I got to spend my lunch hour listening to Rush Limbaugh on the same old radio I had listened to him on two decades earlier. From his television show to his radio show and even his podcasts, I have spent many years being entertained and taught by the talent on loan from God. Whether listening in my car or on my phone, I have enjoyed every minute of it.


I have written previously about Rush Limbaugh in the following articles:

Review of “Talk Radio’s America”

The Landscape and Recent History of Conservative Media in the United States

God and Man on AM Radio


I will miss his down to earth, passionate conservative commentary and the way that he was unyielding in the face of criticism. He gave conservatives strength even through the small things. I remember one of his shows where he was talking about himself (imagine that…). He said that people were under the impression that he got mobbed and harassed everywhere he went by angry liberals and that he couldn’t go to dinner with his wife. He said that wasn’t true, and that he was never approached or bothered by anyone in public. I thought if Rush Limbaugh isn’t harassed at dinner, then The Conservative Social Psychologist will never be bothered at dinner for being a conservative. Then I found the courage to step back into the fight for conservative values, outnumbered as usual but full of resolve. I would not be the outspoken conservative that I am without Rush Limbaugh’s example, inspiration, and stoicism.


Last year, I wrote to Mr. Limbaugh at a time when he was suffering but said that he still read every letter that came to him. So, this evening as I say a prayer of thanks for his influence and comfort for his family, I like to think that he read my letter.  Goodbye, Mr. Limbaugh. I will miss you every day at lunch.

 

Letter to Rush Limbaugh 3-23-2020

 

I started watching your old TV show as a sophomore in high school in 1992 and have listened to your radio show for many years. You have given conservatives across the nation a powerful voice. I am alone in my field as a conservative professor and I write for Psychology Today as The Conservative Social Psychologist. I appreciate that you go on air and fight for us. I pray for your recovery and I thank you for your years of work on our behalf.

 

Review of "Indian Country"

Recently I have been reading the Kelly Turnbull political action novels by Kurt Schlichter. You can read my review of the first book here (Review of “People’s Republic”). Written in 2017, the second book in the series is “Indian Country” and is a prequel to “People’s Republic.” “Indian Country” begins in Baghdad in 2022 with an exciting terrorist hunt, and then changes the setting to Indiana, where Southern Indiana was preparing to secede from the People’s Republic (PR). Indiana was part of the People’s Republic after the United States split into the Red USA and the Blue People’s Republic of North America. All of Indiana had gone to the PR with the Treaty of St. Louis.

 

Captain Turnbull returns with his Wilson Combat 1911A1 .45 in this action thriller where the nation is divided into two after Hillary Clinton’s election as President in 2020. In this alternative USA, the Army base at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, is where people earn the right to vote and hold office during U. S. Army Basic Combat Training. Writing in 2017, Schlicter was quite prescient. For example, Indian Country had Kanye running as a third-party presidential candidate in 2020, a vicious People’s Volunteers paramilitary group of thugs that sounded quite a bit like Antifa, and a $19 an hour minimum wage in the PR. Additionally, Schlichter mentioned an absurd concept that now exists—that of an animal psychologist who connects with animal feelings. PR President Elizabeth Warren’s progressive policies turned the People’s Republic into the dystopia that you might expect.

 

The book follows Turnbull’s insurgency in Jasper, Indiana, with the goal of making the town ungovernable so that the U.S. can negotiate for this Red patch of land in Blue territory. The showdown with People’s Volunteers at end of Chapter 5 was a masterful, suspenseful scene pushing all of the right buttons of drama and persuasion, all while set in the middle of a PSYOP. One of my favorite characters was Pastor Bellman, who prefers Amazing Grace to new songs with bass guitars and drummers. Two other endearing characters were Larry Langer, the local bad boy, and Ted Cannon, a Dubois County Sherriff’s Deputy. The book builds to a final showdown between Turnbull and his former mentor, Colonel Jeff Deloitte.

 

Schlichter employs an effective literary tactic of changing perspective, where he explores the battle strategies and characters from both perspectives. Given the level of strategic detail that he writes into his battle scenes, this makes the novel incredibly engaging to a detail-oriented reader. As usual, the battle scenes were intense, detailed, and an unpleasant look at the unpleasant business of warfare. My favorite line was Larry Langer’s “Damn, that is messed up.”

 

With more background and character development than “People’s Republic,” “Indian Country” takes the series to the next level of writing and leaves me looking forward to the next book in the series, which is “Wildfire.” Now that they are in the business of filmmaking, I encourage “The Daily Wire” to make the Kelly Turnbull novels into a series of films!


The Latest Informational Operation Against Conservatives

Managing information is key to political power, and the Democrats have struck a mighty blow for that this past weekend. Let’s look at an outline of events.

 

2016: Maxine Waters calls for conservatives to be harassed in public, calls for impeachment over false Russian Collusion

Early 2020: House impeaches president over a phone call with a brief request to investigate alleged Hunter Biden crimes

Mid-2020: Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez calls for a list of conservatives who have supported the president to be archived for harassment

Mid-2020: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube suppress stories about Hunter Biden and flag most of the president’s posts

Late 2020: Trump attempts to repeal Section 230, which would force different regulations for Big Tech Social Media companies such as Twitter and Facebook.

Late 2020: Biden appoints Big Tech people to transition team

This week, early 2021: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube ban a sitting president over Capitol riots claiming they were organized on Parler

This week, early 2021: Facebook sanctions 500,000 users for conservative content with a particular hashtag

This week, early 2021: Twitter and Facebook lose users, Parler jumps to #1 in the Apple Store

This week, early 2021: Apple and Google ban Parler from their app stores, knocking Parler off of iPhone and Android devices.

This week, early 2021: Amazon drops Parler servers, forcing Parler to go offline

This week, early 2021: Pelosi calls for impeachment again

 

The big players in this conservative social media blackout are publicly traded companies. According to OpenSecrets.org:

--In 2020, 95.49% of Apple’s employee donations to federal candidates went to Democrats ($5,721,210) versus 4.51% to Republicans ($270,470)

--In 2020, 88.61% of Facebook’s employee donations to federal candidates went to Democrats ($5,964,122) versus to the 11.39% that went to Republicans ($766,608)

--Google did not report their data after 2014. In 2014, they had 60.28% ($1,026,669) of employee donations to federal candidates going to Democrats and 39.72% ($676,457) going to Republicans. However, much has likely changed with their political donations since 2014.

--In 2020, 85.82% of Amazon’s employee donations to federal candidates went to Democrats ($7,339,821) versus 14.18% to Republicans ($1,212,871).

 

These actions are clearly designed to destroy the ability of conservatives to share ideas with each other and the rest of the world. It is a powerful blow against free speech from a monopoly. As we know, attitudes of citizens are manipulated by politicians. Sometimes it is in hopes of persuading them to something good, sometimes it is in the hopes of persuading them to something that is in the politician’s best interests. However, the actions of Big Tech to silence conservatives by shutting down their competitor (Parler) and silencing a sitting president (President Trump) are the worst actions I have seen in politics. The complicity of the mainstream media and the Biden administration in these events fan the flames of division. The brazenness of the Democrat Leadership to attempt to impeach the president this week pokes the eyes of half of the country.  

 

I watched two grown men fight over the last CO2 pellet gun at the store on Friday because they were so scared that they needed something to defend their families, even something that would prove to be ineffective to do so. Big Tech wants to break the backs of conservatives by banding together as gatekeepers and shutting down our communications. Let’s hope that free speech and free markets ultimately win the day.

 

Here is what I wrote in Big Tech’s Role in the DNC’s Informational Operation on November 18, 2020



Review of "People's Republic"

“People’s Republic” is the first book in the Kelly Turnbull political fiction series by Kurt Schlichter. It is an action-packed adventure that stands alone as an action novel, but touches off a neural network of political history to readers who are knowledgeable about current politics and history. The novel is set in a time when the United States of America had split into liberal and conservative nations. The People’s Republic of North America (PRNA) held the coastal cities and some other areas for the liberals (Blues), while the United States of America held “flyover country” with the capitol in Dallas, Texas. Featuring details familiar to me early on like a Dallas ranch, a Glock 19, and Shiner Bock, I found the book very comfortable from my perspective. There is quite a bit of violence, with each incident outlined in great detail. The hero, Kelly Turnbull, is an ex-military solider-for-hire within the USA, tasked to retrieve an asset from Los Angeles deep in the PRNA.

 

One of the great strengths of this novel is Schlichter’s ability to attend to detail. In describing Turnbull’s plans and strategies it is written from the experience of a combat veteran. The author slips in many subtle reasons behind each dystopian detail, answering exactly the questions I ask in my mind with the subsequent sentences. These details are written with the eye of an operations/supply chain expert. All of this leads up to the heart pumping final showdown scene.

 

Though it may have seemed far-fetched fiction in 2016 when the book was published, it seems more realistic in 2020. It is easy for many in the USA to forget how realistic much of the novel is, and how many other countries are similar to how the PRNA is described. The dynamic of the USA and PRNA is similar to that of what happened in East and West Germany, a fact which is likely not lost on the author who served the U. S. Army from there. Recently, it is illegal for citizens to celebrate Christmas in North Korea, Cuba, and Somalia. That’s just one example of multiple places where government intrudes on liberty.

 

The book is gritty and intense, like what we face as a nation at this moment in time. It is not overly graphic in its violence. Though it talks about secession and a split nation, its lesson is to heed the warning and fix our problems now to avoid the brutality of a civil war. This type of warning is common among dystopian novels. Aldous Huxley did not want to see “Brave New World” come to fruition and George Orwell didn’t want to live on “Animal Farm” or in “Nineteen Eight-Four”. It is unfair to criticize Schlichter for writing these dystopian novels with the untrue assertion that he wants or promotes civil war. The books serve two purposes. First, “People’s Republic” is a literary bellwether of what to expect if we let our guard down as a society. Second, it’s just a damn fun, kick ass book to read.

 

Former “neo-conservative” Swamp cheerleader and RINO super booster Bill Kristol has commented on what he called “the appalling books of Kurt Schlichter”.  As I read “People’s Republic”, waiting for the appalling part to drop, I could feel the exact moment in the book that Bill Kristol became appalled. I suspect that he threw up when he read page 23. The book is not for the faint of heart. But if you are a conservative, if you like the action of “Die Hard” movies, and if you like to read, “People’s Republic” will be very entertaining. 

 

Review of "One Vote Away"

A U. S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz went to Harvard Law School and clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist at the U. S. Supreme Court. He also served as Solicitor General of Texas and taught U. S. Supreme Court litigation at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, TX. He is the host of the podcast “Verdict”. His book “One Vote Away: How a Supreme Court Seat Can Change History” is a fascinating look at the Supreme Court through the eyes of one of the smartest men in American politics.

 

In “One Vote Away”, Cruz discusses pivotal Supreme Court cases about religious liberty, school choice, gun rights, sovereignty, abortion, free speech, capital punishment, and elections. All of these involve cases with which he either argued to the court or made the case for an accompanying law in the Senate. The book is framed around cases that were decided with a 5-4 vote, illustrating the importance of electing a President and Senators who confirm justices that align with a voter’s values. His writing style is easy to follow and for me this book was an update to the constitutional law class that I took several decades ago from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri. These issues are critical and the cases themselves, legal context of the precedents, and his intimate knowledge of the players involved and their motives makes this a real-life political thriller.

 

Cruz was my Solicitor General when I lived in Texas, so this book brought to life many of the cases that I remember him litigating at the time and provides a behind the scenes tour into how and why he handled them the way he did. For example, in 2003 several Texas Democrats fled Austin to hide out in a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma to prevent quorum and avoid a vote on redistricting. Cruz gave his insights into that event.

 

Relevant to the post-2020 election months, he outlines the 2000 Bush-Gore case that litigated the selection of a president. In that case, the U. S. Supreme Court was unhappy that the Florida Supreme Court reissued its original decision without acknowledging that the U. S. Supreme Court vacated its original decision with a 9-0 vote. Such is the clash of egos among federal courts. The delay of the election results also delayed his marriage proposal to his future wife.

 

Most interesting was the insight into his courtroom tactics and persuasion strategies. Cruz discussed his own unique debate style and detailed his leadership of strategy in the Senate confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He also mixed in some humor, such as returning to his law class at the University of Texas and explaining to his class that he was the litigator who put Justice Ginsburg to sleep.

 

 

Cruz gave his assessment of each of the Republican Supreme Court Justice selections of the past 75 years. His book is a tour through the psychology of group processes, decision making, and persuasion and gives readers a front row seat into his courtroom strategy and tactics. Cruz is the most relevant, consequential, ideologically fundamental, principled conservative of my generation. I voted for Cruz in the 2016 Oklahoma Presidential Primary, and I look forward to voting for him for President again in the future. “One Vote Away” is an excellent book for any student of American law and politics. 

 

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Kurt Schlichter, author of "Crisis"

Kurt Schlichter’s new book “Crisis” is his fifth novel in the Kelly Turnbull fiction series. Schlichter, who is known for his Townhall.com column, “Unredacted” podcast, “Fighting Words” podcast, non-fiction books about politics, and generally bad ass-ery, has developed this series of novels to fill the void of entertainment for conservatives given Hollywood’s prominent liberal slant. The author is a retired Army Infantry colonel, protégé of Andrew Breitbart, and a Los Angeles trial lawyer. Perhaps his most noteworthy professional accomplishment was making my phone autocorrect words to “ahoy”, which means the rhetoric of his articles violated my smart phone’s safe space.

 

I had the opportunity to interview Colonel Schlichter about “Crisis” and his Turnbull series. I plan to start the Turnbull Series by reading “People’s Republic” first. One thing I can guarantee is that this series is highly entertaining with an edge, like the rest of Colonel Schlichter’s work. Be sure to read his non-fiction books “Militant Normals” and “The 21 Biggest Lies About Donald Trump (and You!)”.

 

Here is our discussion.

 

RM: What was Andrew Breitbart’s observation about the need for conservative entertainment and how did it influence you to write this series?

KS: Andrew pointed out that conservative can't just complain about how the industry is full of libs. We need to make our own content, but it needs to be good content. The message is secondary - you have to entertain!

 

RM: Who is Kelly Turnbull? What is a general overview of the series and character?

KS: Kelly Turnbull is the hero, a military guy who finds himself returning into blue America - it has split into red and blue nations - and carrying out missions among the leftist lunacy. Over the 5 books, the character has developed and now he's pretty distinctive - sullen, funny and violent.

 

RM: If someone is interested in reading “Crisis” but has not read the other four books, should they jump in with “Crisis” or start at the beginning?

KS: Either way - I'd read them chronologically but I don't think you have to. They jump around in time, mostly because I write the stories I feel like writing when I feel like writing them.

 

RM: As liberals continue to do strange, scary, and mildly amusing things, there have long been rumors that your Turnbull series is the playbook for the left. Do you think they read your series and then make their absurd moves or do you just know them well enough that you can create their absurdities as fiction before they happen?

KS: I started writing them in 2016 and I thought I was going overboard and being a bit wacky and all of a sudden these crazy things I'm writing - like misgendering being a felony - are coming true! I just take the current nuttiness to the next level - and reality is right on my heels.

 

RM: What is your favorite thing about writing this fiction series?

KS: I have fun writing them and readers have fun reading them. That's key - conservatism need not be bitter and boring. It's fun!


Call Out Media Hypocrisy Every Time You See It

The media has shown that it has a double standard for covering Republican and Democrat Presidents. After the 2020 election, it is important for conservatives to continue to call out the hypocrisy of the media treatment of American Presidents. From the mainstream legacy media (Democrat-Media Complex), we have seen the media pretend like the following things didn’t happen: Hillary Clinton’s private server e-mails, DNC Russian collusion, FBI surveillance of Trump’s 2016 campaign, Joe Biden firing a Ukrainian prosecutor, and Hunter and Joe Biden accepting money from other countries. We must continue to hold the media accountable for their actions and note these hypocrisies. Here are two examples pointed out yesterday by Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist:

November 30th, 2020: Media Ignore ‘Devoutly Religious’ Biden’s Embarrassing Bible Gaffe After Freaking Out About Trump’s ‘Two Corinthians’ Remark

 

November 30th, 2020: Media Says  Biden’s Female-Led Comms Team Is A First. It’s What Trump Has Now


Each time you see Biden’s female-led communication team touted on social media, late night talk shows, and the legacy news, remember how the White House press corp treated Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kayleigh McEnany, and Mercedes Schlapp. 

Big Tech's Role in the DNC's Informational Operation


A few weeks ago, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey testified before the Senate Commerce Committee that Twitter doesn’t influence elections since it is just one of many social media platforms. Here is why that simple answer was incomplete.

 

Let’s start with the fundamentals of attitudes and persuasion. An attitude is an evaluation of something. Do you like it or dislike it and by how much? Persuasion is the act of changing an attitude. So if you like pizza, you have a positive attitude towards pizza. If you really like it, you have a stronger, more extremely positive attitude than if you just kind of like it. Attitude certainty is how sure you are of the attitude you hold. Perhaps you really like pizza, but if I ask you how certain you are of it you might be really sure or not all that sure about it. Changing attitude certainty is a step towards persuasion.

 

The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) suggests there are two routes of persuasion. There is a central route of persuasion, where we are influenced by strong, high quality arguments. This takes critical analysis and occurs when we are highly invested in a particular attitude or issue. The other is the peripheral route of persuasion, where we are influenced by superficial cues such as the attractiveness of the messenger. This route requires minimal thought or effort and we can accept arguments that fit with our existing attitude with little thought. Peripheral route persuasion is easier to achieve, but central route persuasion is longer lasting.

 

In our social media age, we are living in an incredible time where there is a worldwide marketplace of ideas at our finger tips. It’s not all that easy to persuade people, or everyone would have 88.9 million Twitter followers like President Trump, every social media post would go viral, and every product posted would be sold and we would all be millionaires after opening our first social media account. But the free marketplace of ideas still rewards good ideas and punishes bad ideas.

 

The problem occurs when someone puts their thumb on the scale of that free market. Big Tech generally refers to Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram (owned by Facebook), and YouTube (owned by Google). Big Tech’s censorship (e.g., America’s Frontline Doctors, Plandemic, Shadowgate, New York Post, and Hunter Biden’s exploits) threatens the free market status of social media. Allegations this week of Big Tech entities colluding their censorship are troubling.


Andrew Breitbart called the Legacy Media (ABC, NBC, CBS, New York Times, etc.) the Democrat-Media Complex. Coupled with the Legacy Media’s treatment of the Mueller investigation, Kavanaugh hearing, and 2019-2020 impeachment, Big Tech’s politically biased censorship places them in the role of publisher and they are now solidly part of the Democrat-Media Complex. With the Legacy Media and Big Tech working together, it is easy for them to censor content and follow the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) daily talking points that are released to the media (Rosenwald, 2019). The overall context of this is a substantial informational operation from the DNC designed to influence the American people.

 

References

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). Communication and persuasion: Central and peripheral routes to attitude change. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Rosenwald, B. (2019). Talk radio’s America: How an industry took over a political party that took over the United States. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.

President Trump's Record on Science


In October of 2020, I did an interview with Christoph Drosser for a German radio show about President Trump’s record on science. It was part of a very interesting episode with all other perspectives being from liberal scientists. Most of what I said in the interview didn’t make it into the program due to time constraints of a radio show. I enjoyed the full episode and if you get a chance, listen to it here by following this link. The episode is in German (a German voice over for my part), but there is an article that accompanies it with a summary. Here is the full transcript of my interview.

 

CD: Do you feel like an exotic animal in the intellectual landscape of American universities?

RM: That’s funny! Yes, I do often feel like an exotic animal as a conservative in academia. When I was asked by an editor at Psychology Today to write a blog for them, I needed a title that I knew would be unique. At the time Jonathan Haidt was conducting empirical studies in search of conservatives in social psychology and finding none. So I outed myself and became “The Conservative Social Psychologist.” It was a terrifying experience in the beginning, and now I get e-mails from people all across the world either telling me that I’m great or that I’m terrible. Fortunately, being a scientist means that I am well-prepared to defend my ideas. If you’ve been to a scientific conference and see how we attack each other’s ideas, you will know what I mean. But yes, I do feel like a curiosity at times and I miss just doing science and teaching classes without politics being involved.

 

CD: Faculty in higher education in the US is predominantly liberal, especially in the humanities and social sciences, you are quoting a lot of studies that prove this. What do you think are the main reasons?

RM: I don’t think it is deliberate. I have been on and chaired many faculty hiring committees and politics are never evaluated. I know that there are studies that show faculty would discriminate against conservatives and many probably would. But I suspect it’s more of the principle of similarity. Once the academy tipped to be overwhelmingly liberal, the people drawn to it and hiring within it just had more in common with each other. I think that is the main driving force. My understanding is that 80 years ago, academia was predominantly conservative.

 

CD: Have you personally ever had bad experiences, being called out or bullied by colleagues or students for your conservative point of view?

RM: I haven’t had any experiences of being bullied or harassed. There can be occasionally awkward moments because everyone assumes I am a liberal so they speak more freely about politics around me, but nothing that has targeted me. In fact, I love working in a university. In general, faculty are actually deeply tolerant, empathetic people. People of many types are accepted at universities. Politics have become a more touchy subject lately, but what doesn’t make the news is every time a liberal professor just shrugs their shoulders when they find out a student is a conservative and says “OK.” I don’t want to diminish the negative experiences of conservative students on many campuses right now, but overall universities are wonderful places. I also receive many correspondences from students across the nation who tell me about specific examples of pro-liberal/anti-conservative classroom rhetoric from professors that has nothing to do with the curriculum. 

 

CD: In which way could a politically more balanced composition of faculty lead to “better science?"

RM: Mostly by providing different perspectives. I have always had colleagues who have me look over their work as a pre-review before submission for peer review. I now have several liberal colleagues who regularly run their work by me for my input on their hypotheses and framing of questions, specifically because I am a conservative. Working in the social sciences, it is easy to come up with a question to measure an attitude that makes sense to a liberal that doesn’t fit with a conservative’s way of thinking, or vice versa. It may be that it doesn’t get construed in the way the researcher thinks it will. It’s a new dimension to use to make sure we have reduced variance in the measure. My perspective isn’t the definitive one, but we can talk about it and it can inform their work.

 

Another way it can lead to better science is that with more balance, politics will infiltrate the classroom less where it isn’t relevant. With fewer political biases presented in class, the reputation of our universities will recover and be less politically polarizing. The overall reputation of our universities has consequences for science, since the experiences of the policy makers shape their stereotypes of scientists, affecting their willingness to listen.

 

CD: You teased me with the sentence "I am highly pleased with the President's work in most areas of his administration. I am not as pleased with the administration's support of science” – can you elaborate on that?

RM: The President’s job requires balancing many things. In no particular order, maintaining freedoms, ensuring safety for citizens, growing the economy, and fighting for American interests at all times. I will assume that as a scientist, my views on what the President has accomplished outside of the realm of science are irrelevant to this discussion, but I am pleased with most of his policies (a few include eliminating multiple regulations to add a new Federal regulation, appointment of Federal judges and Supreme Court Justices, and leveling the playing field for free trade with other countries).

 

With regard to science, I think it is short sighted to allow for harvesting natural resources from protected federal land, I oppose selling off protected federal land, and I oppose the reduction of some of the regulations on clean air and water. Federally protected wetlands should remain federally protected as well.  

 

CD: The Trump administration replaced a lot of leaders of scientific government institutions with scientists or administrators from industry and lobbying groups that were very critical of these institutions. Do you agree with this policy?

RM: I certainly agree with changing up perspectives. The focus of the administration appears to be on incentivizing science and technology. Artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, 5G and rural internet, medicine—these are all worthy investments. Prioritizing science is tricky, because scientists often find cross-disciplinary research to be crucial. Beyond that, it is short sighted to focus on applied research and ignore basic research (or vice versa). In the early 2000’s, I was highly critical of President Bush for the policy of only funding applied research. As I said then, we will need basic research to push the applied research years from now. Prioritizing resources is one thing, but abandoning support for entire fields of research is another. Historically, Republicans do not do this well. I believe that one reason for this is that there are so few Republican scientists that the GOP doesn’t have voices they will listen to. That is unfortunate, because I know plenty of liberal scientists who speak the truth about science and are not politically motivated. The GOP would be wise to listen to them. But much of it is perception.

 

CD: Regarding the President’s attitude towards science, nowhere has it arguably been more consequential than in the coronavirus pandemic. Would you agree that the president ignored scientific advice and carries a big share of the responsibility for the infections getting out of hand?

RM: I do not agree with that at all. Right now, the Republicans have been highly critical of Trump for shutting down the economy and listening to Dr. Fauci. The Democrats have been highly critical of Trump for allowing things to carefully open back up with precautions. Which is it, did he listen to the scientists too much or not enough? From March through May, President Trump stood with a panel of scientists right in front of the cameras and spoke directly to the nation every single day. For his base, the briefings were disappointing oftentimes because he yielded the floor to the scientists and he allowed them to correct him when he misspoke. He asked the scientists if he was right at times and let them take questions when he didn’t know the answer. He didn’t hide anything from the citizens. It was the most transparent I have ever seen politics and science. We all got to watch the messy process of science play out as they referred to new studies, which refuted other studies, etc. The evidence was coming in and we saw it in real time. The criticism from Republicans is that you can’t trust science, or the scientists, because they are all over the place. That’s simply not true. There wasn’t a body of scientific evidence for SARS-CoV2 from which to draw. We watched its creation in real time. That is phenomenal, and if you throw politics aside, science did a good job. We have a large, free nation and our rates of infection and death are not at the top of the leaderboard for nations. Love him or hate him, Dr. Fauci is a celebrity. Everyone knows who he is. That happened because President Trump let it happen, even encouraged it. Fauci had the leeway to say things, take them back, and go on every show in America to get direct questions. Four states make up a large number of the 200,000 tragic deaths in the U.S. Roughly 25,000 from New York, 15,000 from California, 15,000 from Florida, and 15,000 from Texas. That is roughly 1/3 of the deaths in the U. S. coming from three heavily populated states.

What The New York Times and CNN Didn't Tell You About What I Said

Andrew Breitbart’s number 1 rule was “Don’t be afraid to go into enemy territory.” So I when extremely biased liberal outlets ask me for interviews, I generally agree. However, having been burned a few times on the national stage, I now insist on e-mail interviews when practical. Those give transparency and allow me to show what was really said, good or bad. It has helped me clear the record a few times, but what doesn’t get shown are the egregiously biased omissions from the legacy media. Since we are approaching election day, I thought I would share a few from this year.  


The New York Times Interview (May 2020)


The questions revolved around the political polarization of the pandemic lockdown. Why do liberals support lockdowns and conservatives support restarting the economy? Do they value life differently? Do conservatives have more emphasis on the costs of the economic shutdown such as health? Here was my response.


“There are quite possibly two elements at play with the political polarization of the pandemic lockdown. First, liberals and conservatives have very different sets of moral foundations. According to Jonathan Haidt's research, liberals emphasize the moral foundations of harm/care and fairness/reciprocity, while conservatives emphasize harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. During the pandemic, both liberals and conservatives are likely to feel equal amounts of sadness and empathy for the extreme loss of life, but conservatives are more likely to place those emotions within the larger context of the economic shutdown. Second, many liberals and conservatives get their news from very different media sources and greatly distrust sources that do not align with their viewpoints. This is an outgrowth of the group polarization that has occurred in recent years. Fortunately, one value of a free press is that it accommodates many viewpoints and ideally one set of facts. The reconciliation point for liberals and conservatives will be to rally around fact-based objective truth reporting by major media outlets. That is the best chance to reduce group polarization.”


Of course, the NYT article ended up being a parade of liberal social psychologists explaining how Trump’s policies are bad (which would be irrelevant to the research data on human behavior, even if true, right?), Republicans are evil, and did not include a comment from the only conservative they chose to interview to balance the other 15 social scientists. There is irony in those editorial choices in light of the last three sentences of my response.  


CNN Interview (October 2020)


The questions in this early October interview revolved around election anxiety. Here was my response.


“When a person tries to avoid thinking about something, it usually comes back with a vengeance. Thought suppression often leads to a rebound effect, and thinking about something else, called a focused distracter, reduces the rebound. So people who are having election anxiety should try to focus on something non-political.


Anxiety increases arousal and shrinks a person’s working memory capacity, so they it can make us more susceptible to peripheral route persuasion. That means that glitzy messages with little substance can more easily change our attitudes in that condition. Have you ever noticed those types of political ads that play to that?


People who are high in need for cognition are people who need to really analyze information to be comfortable. They might be better off critically analyzing information, but that is going to be 1/3 of people at best. If they feel overwhelmed because there is so much information in today’s media cycles, then no amount of research and critical thinking will help them. They need to cognitively pivot to a non-political interest or use relaxation techniques.”


Again, none of this was included in the article which presumably bumped my comments and those of another conservative for an extensive discussion of a “study, published recently as a pre-print without outside peer review” that fit the narrative that people less afraid of COVID don’t follow CDC recommendations.


President Trump has famously accused CNN and the legacy media of being Fake News. These accusations are easy to dismiss unless you have experienced it first hand. Sometimes it’s the writers, sometimes it’s the editors, sometimes its both. But the egregiously biased spin of the legacy media is infuriating if you think about the people who trust the legacy media and believe them. Those people have no idea of the ongoing FBI investigation of Hunter Biden and barely any familiarity with the Tara Reade sexual assault accusation against Joe Biden. They don’t know about Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s involvement in illegally surveilling Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and they don’t know about Joe Biden dropping out of the 1988 presidential campaign due to plagiarism. They also don’t know about Fusion GPS and the Steele Dossier. These are major scandals at the highest levels. It is pure Alinsky tactics of accusing your opponent of the corruption that you yourself are doing.


They also don’t know about the strange gaffes, weird unwanted hugs, weird unwanted kisses, and weird unwanted hair sniffing of Joe Biden at campaign events. That’s probably why they mask, muzzle, and quarantine him. They don’t know about him reading the teleprompter in interviews or being fed questions in townhall campaign events. It is a sad day when the legacy media cannot be trusted to tell the complete truth. Being a journalist, like being a regular human, should be easy: tell the damn truth.  

Andrew Breitbart's Legacy: Do Not Accept Defeat

Where have you gone, Andrew Breitbart? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. The most important person in the 2020 election tragically left this world 8 years ago. But his legacy lives on with Breitbart News Network, writers/commentators like Dana Loesch, Larry O’Connor, Kurt Schlichter, and thousands of other citizen journalists with blogs and websites. 


Breitbart referred to the biased legacy news groups and Hollywood industry that openly support Democrats as the Democrat-Media Complex. It is the large, closed-loop propaganda machine that influences public opinion by killing stories that show Democrats in a negative light and by promoting stories that savage Republicans whether true or not. Of course, President Trump has labeled some of this as “fake news”. 


In his book Righteous Indignation, Breitbart discussed his early life in Los Angeles and his time at Tulane University, as well as his early career in Hollywood as a movie runner. These experiences shaped his perspective and understanding of how the Democrat-Media Complex operates. Seeing the internet as the great equalizer to this, he found his way to being a fan of the Drudge Report and eventually Matt Drudge introduced him to Arianna Huffington. Breitbart helped her to create the Huffington Post. In doing so, he created a platform for liberals to speak and show the world their true colors. One of their first impactful stories was to take down Bill Clinton donor Larry Lawrence, who had lied about his Merchant Marine service in order to get interred in Arlington National Cemetery, a scandal of the Clinton Administration. Ultimately, Lawrence was dis-interred from the cemetery. 


Breitbart also outlined the rise of progressivism and discussed Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson as well as the media’s terrible treatment of George W. Bush. He gave a history of socialism, Marxism and the Frankfurt School’s ideology in the U.S. Perhaps most importantly, well in advance of the 2016 election, he outlined the Alinsky tactics of the left in forcing their socialist agenda on our nation. If you look up Alinsky’s tactics for community organizers, you will recognize the media gaslighting that has occurred over the past 4 years. Joe Biden corruption in Ukraine? Blame Trump for the thing of which you are yourself guilty. Textbook Alinsky. 


He advocated going into enemy territory to argue, outlining his experiences as a hated conservative guest on Bill Maher’s show and passing the Coulter threshold (the point where you stand up for what you believe in, unafraid of missing dinner invitations or having spineless fellow conservatives scold you for not acquiescing to liberals). Of course, he gave detailed accounts of two of his biggest stories to break, the ACORN scandal and the Anthony Weiner scandal. 


Andrew Breitbart taught a generation of conservatives to walk towards the fire. Among his recommendations: 1. Don’t be afraid to go into enemy territory, 2. Expose the left for who they are—in their own words, 3) Be open about your secrets, 4) Don’t let the Complex use its PC lexicon to characterize you and shape the narrative, 5) Control your own story—Don’t let the complex do it, 6) Ubiquity is key, 7) Engage in the social arena, 8) Don’t pretend to know more than you do, 9) Don’t let them pretend to know more than they do, 10) Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon, 11) Don’t let them get away with ignoring their own rules, 12) Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth, 13) Believe in the audacity of hope. 


Andrew Breitbart showed conservatives that taking the high road when facing an ideological enemy with a scorched earth strategy is a foolish, losing game plan. He showed conservatives how to stand up and fight for our beliefs. He showed conservatives how to be citizen journalists and to use the internet as the great equalizer. He showed conservatives that a damning cell phone video is compelling evidence. 


Since 2016, the Democrat-Media Complex has told us there was nothing to see with Hillary Clinton’s private server e-mails, DNC Russian collusion, FBI surveillance of Trump’s 2016 campaign, Joe Biden firing a Ukrainian prosecutor, and Hunter and Joe Biden accepting money from other countries. The Democrat-Media Complex shapes this narrative. But in the internet age, unyielding citizens shape the true narrative and the Democrat-Media Complex can’t control that (and it drives them crazy). 


The government works for us, the citizens. The media works for us, the citizens who are their audience. As citizens, we have the power to elect officials and hold them to a high standard. We have the right to have our voices heard. Conservatives must join together, unafraid, and stand up for what we believe is right. When you vote, don’t vote for who you are told to vote for. Vote for the person whose positions on issues align with yours. Have the courage to walk towards the fire and do not be afraid. Our nation depends on citizens to hold each other accountable by honest inquiry and critical accountability.


Andrew Breitbart's legacy lives when citizens join together to say enough is enough and we are not going to accept defeat. Do not accept defeat. 

Review of "Killing Reagan"

 


In the book “Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault that Changed a Presidency” (2015), Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard bring President Reagan’s life into a vibrant narrative that shows Reagan as a man. He is a deeply talented, driven, and flawed man. The narrative does not paint Reagan in a positive or negative light, but paints him as he was: A man who did great things.


Reagan found himself ideologically alone among the communists prevalent in Hollywood at the time. I can relate to being ideologically alone in my profession. But Reagan wasn’t silent, and he continued to fight for what he believed was right. In his early career as President of the Screen Actors Guild, advising Vice-President Richard Nixon, and campaigning for Barry Goldwater, Reagan developed his ideas and refined his technique, but he never strayed from his anti-communist, pro-America foundation.


His love of his wife Nancy Reagan was a big part of him as a man, and though she may have seemed like the villain at times in the story, by the end she is a strong, loving, compassionate figure worthy of empathy.


A secondary figure in the story is John Hinkley, who attempted to assassinate Reagan. Combined with Reagan’s signing National Mental Health Week proclamation and his Alzheimer’s, the book places mental health as an important context. Reagan experienced many physical and mental health problems after the assassination attempt. These problems affected his administration, leading to a secret 25th amendment evaluation in March of 1987.


What was the best part of reading this book? For me it was this: While reading the book, I became aware that Hollywood is in a nearby town filming a feature about Reagan’s life. I get to play a role in the movie, and scenes that I read about in “Killing Reagan” will actually come to life for me as I witness history from the front row as a participant. But I will write about all of that in a future post. In the meantime, I recommend you read “Killing Reagan”.

 

 

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Kelly Johnston, 28th Secretary of the United States Senate

Kelly Johnston was the 28th Secretary of the United States Senate, and the second youngest ever selected (1995-1996) to the position. He was born in Edmond, OK and attended the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. Early in his career he served as a newspaper reporter and editor in Oklahoma. He held a number of notable Republican administrative positions during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. He gives insightful political commentary at his website (www.againstthegrain.expert/). I had the opportunity to interview him. Here is our discussion.

 

RM: What was your role as Secretary of the United States Senate? What should citizens know about how that body of government truly operates in governing in our interests?

KJ: The Secretary of the Senate is the chief legislative, financial, and administrative officer of the Senate. The Secretary is considered the "senior" officer, one of five, confirmed by the Senate, and the only one who is sworn in on the floor of the Senate, in session. The other officers are the Sergeant at Arms, the Secretary for the Majority, the Secretary for the Minority, and the Chaplain. The Secretary is responsible for the legislative process - the Parliamentarian, the Bill and Journal Clerks, the document room, historical office, chief counsel for employment, and more offices (some 19 in all) that fall under his/her jurisdiction. The current Secretary is Julie Adams. Most notable is the first Secretary, Samuel Otis, who still holds the record for the longest tenure in the office - 25 years. A visit to Congress Hall in Philadelphia, next to Independence Hall, features Otis's office just off the grand Senate floor. It is worth a visit for anyone living in or visiting the Philadelphia area.


Not to be overlooked is the role of the chief financial officer of the Senate, and also his/her responsibility for the Senate Office of Security. The Secretary is responsible for the handling of all confidential and classified information in the Senate.

 

RM: Your role in the Senate came while your Majority Leader was running for President. What was Bob Dole like as both a politician and as a man?

KJ: Bob Dole was not only a serious and very hard-working legislator, but he also enjoyed enormous bipartisan respect and demonstrated a unique ability to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats, especially on agricultural and hunger issues (he, with Sen. George McGovern, are the architects of much of our nation's nutrition programs). His remarkable WWII experience, where he was seriously wounded in Italy as part of the 10th Mountain infantry division, shaped and influenced him in many ways - especially his long road to recovery and painful disabilities that have hindered him physically but not deterred his entire life. Because of that, among his considerable legislative and political skills, he inspired a great many of us.


Interestingly, he was considered an "ardent conservative" when first elected to the House and then the Senate but was considered a "moderate" as his career progressed. Dole could sometimes appear dour and even bit negative on the stump, but behind the scenes, he demonstrated a terrific and quick sense of humor and was fun to be around. He could have been a great stand-up comic (and, often was) Sadly, that reality never really emerged until after his 1996 election defeat. He was one of the most successful Majority Leaders in the Senate's history.

 

RM: You spent time as a local news reporter and editor in Oklahoma for many years. How has local and national journalism changed over the past 50 years?

KJ: I was a part-time newspaper reporter during my college years (1974-1976) for the Chickasha Daily Express, also serving briefly as the editor of my campus newspaper, The Trend (University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma). Little did I know, but I was auditioning for a job as The Donrey Media Group's state capitol correspondent when I was assigned, in 1976, to cover a campaign visit to Lawton by President Gerald Ford. I won the job, working from our flagship paper, the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise. I would later be promoted as Editor of the Henryetta Free-Lance, then a daily newspaper (sadly no longer). I left the news business for a political campaign in late 1978, then on to Washington, DC. 


I mention all that to provide a frame of reference for my answer: I no longer recognize my former profession. I was trained, both in college and my first jobs, to pursue objective truth and clearly delineate between journalism and editorializing. My news coverage focused on facts and context; I save the editorializing for my weekly column or clearly-marked editorials. I used visuals (photos) as often as possible.


The keywords here are "objective truth," which tragically have been replaced by "narrative." In our post-modern world of subjective truth ("your truth," "my truth,"), so many journalists no longer pursue objective truth but instead focus on their preferred narrative. Major news outlets color or distort their headlines and stories to favor certain narratives over others, and demand conformity from their newsroom and editorial colleagues (so much for "diversity"). And with the advent of social media since around 2008, traditional media have opted to monetize division and focus on niche markets, such as conservatives (FOX) or liberals (CNN). Print media has largely gone all-in for their leftist audiences. However, let me make an exception for "local media," which I find does a much better job at retaining their "objective truth" roots. I have canceled my subscriptions to most major national media, such as the Washington Post and New York Times, and instead turn to the Tulsa World, Daily Oklahoman, Chicago Tribune, and even the Myrtle Beach Sun-Times, among others. I also ignore most of the wire services (especially AP), although Reuters and, to a lesser extent, Bloomberg, retain some objectivity (not always).


This is why, I think, you are beginning to see explosive growth in independent journalism, such as The Epoch Times, "Just The News," and Sharyl Attkisson's "Full Measure" News. Chicago's WGN TV is now going national. People are yearning for objective journalism, I think smarter heads in the media are taking advantage of this opportunity. There is hope.

 

RM: I have had the chance to spend time with former Governor George Nigh, who was governor during your time covering the Oklahoma State Capitol as a reporter. Despite having different political views than me, Governor Nigh is extraordinarily entertaining. What were some of the central issues from your time covering Oklahoma politics during the oil bust? Was Governor Nigh effective in working in a bipartisan manner?

KJ: I love Governor Nigh. I first met him when I had a one-on-one interview in 1977 early in my days as a wet-behind-the-ears state capitol news correspondent for Donrey's 12 newspapers in Oklahoma, and Nigh was Lt. Governor, a position he would serve in for 16 years if memory serves. A gracious, approachable, positive, and gregarious person, he was always delightful. Nigh was an "old fashioned" Democrat; culturally and socially conservative, as Oklahoma was then and remains, but knew how to take care of Democratic constituencies and work with the business community. He hated polarizing politics, eschewed controversy, and always tried to find a common denominator. I remember voting for him every chance I had, and the newspapers I worked for always endorsed him.

 

RM: The United States Senate procedures will take center stage in the coming months after the passing of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. What do we need to know about the operations of the Senate to understand what is coming?

KJ: The Senate's role here is actually very straightforward, as outlined by the Constitution: The President is empowered to nominate to fill vacancies in the Supreme Court, and the Senate gets to decide whether to confirm or not, or even whether to consider the nomination. There is no law or "rule" that restricts when such nominations can be made or confirmed (during a two-year Congress). Any other considerations (whether to hold a confirmation vote before or after an election) are purely political.


There have been 29 Supreme Court vacancies in election years in our country's history. Presidents have nominated someone in every instance, and the Senate, on 17 occasions, have confirmed them. Sometimes they have rejected them, and most recently, in 2016, they chose not to act. The Senate follows historical precedent, except when it doesn't. Given that the Senate majority (at present) is of the same political party as the President, I fully expect a nomination to be made, and the Senate to act on it with hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee and, possibly, a vote by the full Senate either before or after the election, during a planned "lame duck" session. Ultimately, it is about who has the votes. We will soon find out.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Meredith Dake-O'Connor, Journalist

Meredith Dake-O'Connor is a freelance multimedia journalist who has held editorial roles at Breitbart News (Associate Editor) and CQ Roll Call (Multimedia Editor). She has published in PJ Media, Roll Call, and The Federalist. I had the opportunity to interview her about journalism and politics. We discussed Andrew Breitbart, the state of journalism, Big Tech censorship, Meghan McCain and other topics. It is a long interview and well worth the read! Here is the link to a PDF of our discussion.

Review of "Militant Normals"


When I first encountered the work of Kurt Schlichter, I was shocked. It was on the Townhall VIP broadcasts, which are not for the faint of heart. He was right about what he said, but it just didn’t seem like a political commentator was supposed to say it like that. Then I realized that he talked (and wrote) like how my friends and I would talk about politics at a bar or on the porch late at night. Then it hit me—he wasn’t like the other political commentators; he was like me and the people that I know. He was normal.


After reading his articles, one of his books, listening to his two different podcast venues, and watching more of his Townhall VIP sessions, I found him to be very much as he describes himself—the conservative id. That metaphor, of course, speaks to me as a psychology professor.


In Schlichter’s 2018 book “Militant Normals: How Regular Americans Are Rebelling Against the Elite to Reclaim Our Democracy” he captures the fundamental truth of why Donald Trump is our President. It is in the elegant distinction of Normal versus Elite.


The Elites are not necessarily rich, but they buy into the culture surrounding elitism. We know better than you, we make the decisions, that sort of thing. The Normals are humble everyday people who go to work, take care of the people they love, and don’t think they are better than anyone else. It sounds simple, right? The Normals work all of their lives for the Elites and the Elites make the world go ‘round, right?

Not at all. The Normals elect the Elites to political power. The Elites work FOR the Normals. The Normals are the customers of the Elites who run mega corporations like Amazon, Google, or any giant enterprise. The Elites work FOR the Normals. But the Elites forget this humility from time to time and the Normals have to remind them by doing something wild like burning down cities and marching on the capitol. Wrong again, some of the braver Normals just wear red MAGA hats and even more of them just vote to drain the swamp. 


It is a clash of Elites versus Normals, not rich versus poor. The Normals are not voting against their own interests, as the Elite like to say. The Normals are smart and very capable of voting for their own interests. The Normals are tired of institutional bureaucratic inertia—or “The Swamp.”


Like Schlichter, Larry O’Connor is another Breitbart protégé. Both men understand what all of us Republicans experienced during the George W. Bush years. Republicans were made laughing stocks by the media. Every session of every scientific meeting I attended for 8 years had a minimum of 20 Bush jokes to even enter the session, most of them enshrined within the PowerPoint itself. George W. Bush stoically did what I and many others thought was right at the time—he remained classy and above the fray, never stooping to the level of the mud-slinging. But the mud-slinging wasn’t just for him. His supporters went to the ideological battlefield every day to face humiliation. He didn’t stand up for us. It was an old model and we didn’t know he could. Look, George W. Bush is one of my two favorite Presidents (Reagan is the other) and you will rarely hear me criticize him. This isn’t even a criticism of Bush’s strategy during the context of that time period, but I am noting that Donald Trump stands up for his supporters.


Bush encountered the new age of the internet, and mud-slinging was at a whole new level. Barack Obama was the media darling and a Democrat, so he was left alone by the media. Donald Trump is a Republican, so he takes shots from the media. I watched an old Saturday Night Live a few months ago with Kirk Douglass hosting in February of 1980. There was a segment where Ronald Reagan was portrayed as a racist. Do you see the pattern? Normals see it and it is not a new phenomenon. Republican Presidents get harassed by the media and Hollywood. What is new is that Republicans are fighting back.


We Republicans haven’t had a true prize fighter in the ring for us since Reagan. Go back and listen to Reagan’s speeches. Listen to the speeches he gave in 1964, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1988 and you will find it doesn’t matter. He was tough and he fought for us. He fought for California, he fought for the U.S., he fought the media and he fought the Communists. He was hated by the media, by Hollywood and he was a former Democrat, but he produced major conservative wins. Does that sound familiar?


To contrast our choice this year, we are at the climax of a four year tantrum by the Democrats who have yet to acknowledge that President Trump won the votes in the electoral college with the rules that were in place when the campaigns were set—rules that are always there—against someone who thinks Trump stole the election but should have actually been in jail for using a private server to communicate classified information.


When I worked in a maximum security prison, we signed a form. It was the last form they gave us and the only one they didn’t go over with us. I was the only one in my new employee training cohort who read the form. We had just signed 30 forms that were all carefully explained to us. Why are they slipping this one in at the end with no explanation, telling us to just sign it? I bet this is the only one worth reading. It was the one that said if there was a prison riot and I was taken hostage, my employment would be automatically terminated and as policy they would not negotiate for my release. I thought that was good to know, so that I wouldn’t sit around waiting for the warden’s security to get me in that scenario. I figured I had two options: Fight my way out or team up with the prisoners and lead them into battle with the cowards who had turned their backs on me. Hypothetically, anyway. Given the riots and four year tantrum of the Democrats, a vote for many DNC candidates this year is akin to negotiating with a hostage taker. Vote for us and the chaos and trouble will stop, because we are the ones doing it. That’s the Democrat platform this year!


We Normals are tired of liberals being able to exercise free speech, political virtue signaling, and cancel culture in the streets and workplaces and expecting us to stay quiet and maintain “civility.” Free speech works both ways. Activism works both ways. Resistance works both ways.


Colonel Schlichter’s basic premise is that the Normals sit and yield the operations of democracy to the Elite until the Elite lose sight of who they work for. Then the Normals wake up, fight back, and elect a fighter. Then they go back to Normal until the Elite slap them around long enough and they wake up and fight again.


Speaking of slapping conservatives around, the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign and used the IRS to target conservatives. That’s not President Trump abusing power, those are Democrats.


What about violence? Congressman Steve Scalise was FREAKING SHOT by a man hunting Republicans. In Jacksonville, FL, a man FREAKING DROVE A VAN into a tent of Republican volunteers while hunting Republicans. In Portland, OR, Aaron Danielson was FREAKING SHOT by a man hunting Republicans. Rand Paul was FREAKING ATTACKED by his longtime neighbor with longtime political differences who promptly used the “brush pile made me do it” defense. Then Rand Paul and his wife got mobbed after the RNC. These aren’t attacks on ideals—they are active attacks targeting Republicans for being Republican. This isn’t chaos due to Donald Trump. We have Donald Trump to fight for us against an opponent that has been less than civil. This is intimidation.


Schlichter’s book captures the sentiment that Normals are sick of being slapped around by liberals, reminding me of the end of an old Kenny Rogers song. We Normals listen to Kenny Rogers sometimes.


Coward of the County, by Kenny Rogers

When Tommy turned around they said, “He look! Old Yellow’s leaving”

But you could’ve heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and locked the door

Twenty years of crawling was bottled up inside him.

He wasn’t holding nothing back, he let ‘em have it all

When Tommy left the bar room, not a Gatlin boy was standing…

I walk away from trouble when I can

Now please don’t think I’m weak, I didn’t turn the other cheek

And Papa, I should hope you understand

Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man


Hey Republicans, sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man.

Review of "Talk Radio's America"


In 2019, I listened to an episode of “The Rush Limbaugh Show” on News Radio 1000 KTOK in Oklahoma City. On that episode, Rush recommended reading Brian Rosenwald’s Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States. Rush was smitten with Rosenwald’s description of the early years of Rush’s career and the giant legacy he had left for talk radio. Rush is a big fan of Rush, hence the appeal of the book to him. However, I am also a big fan of Rush so I bought the book and read it last year.

 

The book will be of interest to readers who follow conservative talk radio or Republican politics. In addition to beginning with a history of “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” it also covers Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Newt Gingrich, Breitbart News, and the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. The rise of conservative talk radio is set in the context of the creation of Fox News, the Contract with America, and the Clinton administration. It shows how and why the politics of the party shifted further right and led to the Tea Party movement. There is also discussion of President Donald Trump.

 

Basic political strategies such as making talking points and party members available for interviews are chronicled for the arms race of persuasion between Republicans and Democrats. Bill Clinton’s southern respect for talk radio and willingness to guest for hosts of all types proved crucial for him.

 

The author, Rosenwald, does not appear to be a conservative Republican. At the very least, his anti-Trump biases come out in his last few chapters. However, the author made an attempt at being unbiased in covering Trump. How often do we see a journalist do that?


As a compliment to the article, I recommend reading Victor Davis Hanson's article "Limbaugh: A Genius at Radio" (National Review, February 11th, 2020).

View of a Monster: "Bin Laden's Hard Drive"

Osama Bin Laden orchestrated a devastating attack on the United States on September 11th, 2001. A recently released documentary provides psychological insight into the monster. On September 10th, 2020, National Geographic Channel aired “Bin Laden’s Hard Drive.” The documentary used a number of scholarly analysts to examine the contents of the hard drive seized at Bin Laden’s compound during the raid in which a U. S. Navy SEAL Team killed Bin Laden.

 

The analysis revealed a narcissist who demanded perfection in his delivery of his videotaped speeches. Bin Laden was highly paranoid, since the world was trying to find him and kill him for his evil works. He lived with around 20 people on an isolated compound, with satellite TV and web content only brought in through USB drives. They grew their own crops and raised their own livestock.

 

A Muslim woman described him as not representing Muslims or Islam and cited many instances of his flawed interpretations of their scripture. She stated, “that’s not an extremist, that’s a deviant revisionist.” The deviant revision was the foundation of much of the religious propaganda that he used to grow Al Qaeda. A few of his wives helped him to co-author many of his messages and he indoctrinated his grandchildren to become martyrs.

 

Some of the most interesting analysis came from Dr. Reid Maloy, a forensic psychologist who consults with the FBI. One noteworthy observation was that someone was rewarding Bin Laden’s young grandson off camera for the boy’s propaganda speech. Another interesting observation was made by Peter Bergen, a journalist and CNN National Security Analyst who had previously interviewed Bin Laden. Bergen noted that Bin Laden opened the on-screen TV menu to cover the faces of female reporters and Americans when he watched TV.

 

"Bin Laden's Hard Drive" provides a chilling view into the last years of a monster in a seclusion of his own making.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Olga Khazan, author of "Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World"

When the COVID-19 pandemic began its full force lockdown of Oklahoma in March of 2020, I was awaiting the arrival of the latest psychology book I had pre-ordered. When it arrived a few days into the massive collective panic, we were all receiving mixed messages about how to protect ourselves from the newest coronavirus. People microwaving their mail was a real thing at that time. In that context, I decided to open the box anyway and begin to read the book I had been impatiently waiting to be released to the public.

 

What book could be worth risking my life to read? The book “Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World” did not disappoint me. The author of the book, Olga Khazan, is a writer for The Atlantic. I had read a number of her articles on health and psychology years ago and one day she contacted me for an interview. After that, she interviewed me for a few more articles. She is one of the best writers of psychological science in the business. Her politics don’t align with mine, but guess what? I am a scientist and she is a science writer and our science aligns. As a conservative writer, I engage in political discussions (and fights) all day long most days. Having discussions about science with other scientists and science-knowledgeable people is as good as it gets for me. That’s the reason I got into psychology. In my social psychology courses I always told students about the importance of Hollander’s concept of idiosyncrasy credits and that no one ever talks about those. In her book, she became the first person I have encountered has made reference to that important concept. Perhaps that means that academically we are “weird” together!

 

In the book Weird, Khazan highlights the advantages and disadvantages that can come from standing out and being different. She talks about her own experiences growing up in Texas in a Russian family. She discussed a woman who had left the Amish and joined non-Amish society. She discussed a trans-gendered politician in a small conservative town, a former Mormon missionary and a plus-sized model pioneer. She discussed many people, all of whom would be considered “normal” if they weren’t living among a different group of people. Some left the new group and some stayed. Some had found their advantages as outsiders who thought differently and stood out, and some could not overcome or reframe that experience.

 

The most important thing is that she interviewed people who were all special, strong, and resilient in some way and all of whom make a difference in their sphere of influence, however large or small. The book reminded me of the story of the ugly duckling, who was different than the other ducks and turned into a swan. That children’s story gives hope to those who are different. “Weird” does the same. 


Her book is entertaining, emotionally powerful, and mixes in a great deal of empirical research from experimental psychology. Everyone feels left out or isolated at times and thus anyone can connect with the human elements of pain and pride in the stories she has collected. Khazan’s self-disclosure creates a strong bond with the reader and is a literary tool she used quite effectively. I suggest that you read her book.

 

I had the opportunity to interview Olga Khazan about her book. Here is our discussion.

 

RM: How did you become interested in writing about health, science, and psychology?

OK: I've always had an interest in it, from what I can recall. In college, I was torn between majoring in psychology, journalism, or pre-law. I'm lucky I have a career that combines elements of all three.

 

RM: What are your two favorite articles that you have written for The Atlantic and why are they your favorites?

OK: I really enjoyed writing this one because it brought me back to Midland, Texas, where I'm from, to report on teen pregnancy prevention, which I'm really passionate about. And almost every woman I know identifies with this one, about how men view women's humor.

 

RM: What do you think is the hallmark of a good journalist?

OK: Curiosity. Understanding what pisses you off and why.

 

RM: You wove other people’s stories around your deeply personal narrative. Was it scary to disclose so much of your own insecurities and pain? Was it therapeutic to put it on paper in such a way that you could deeply reflect on your own journey?

OK: It wasn't that scary, because I write in a pretty self-confessional style on our site and on my Twitter account. I did wonder if people would end up with the wrong impression of me or something like that, but some people will choose to misread anything, no matter how careful and opaque you are. It wasn't really very therapeutic, but I don't really write for therapy. Usually I only write about something if I've already processed it on a level beyond therapy or even what I would talk about with a friend. Once I heard a good memoirist (I forget who) say that you shouldn't write about something you aren't ready to talk about. I think that's good advice.

 

RM: What was the most personally powerful story that you encountered from one of your interviewees? Did that story change you in anyway?

OK: The story of Emma Gingerich, the woman who ran away from the Amish, really stayed with me. I think she's one of the most tenacious people I've ever met, and she had to overcome so much. Obviously, all outsiders face hurdles, but the twist to her story was that she was raised in a different time than everyone else. She hadn't used a computer or phone until she was practically an adult. Whenever I feel like what I'm facing is just too much and I'll never be able to do it, I think about everything she overcame and muster that last bit of energy :) 

 

RM: Is it rewarding to think that your book can help others who feel left out and inspire them to reframe their experiences? What message do you have for those who find themselves “weird”?

OK: I would say the big takeaway is that what you tell yourself matters. As I write in the book, a big strength that the more successful "weirdos" have is that they're able to tell themselves better narratives about whatever is happening to them. Rather than being a victim, they're the underdog who's poised for a win. Rather than an oddball, they're the creative genius. I don't mean to make this sound easy—I'm a pretty negative person, and I find it hard to put a happy face on things. But *trying* to come up with a better story for your life is a really good way to tap into those last reserves of resilience and make it through a difficult time. (Actually, it's okay if you're even lying to yourself a little bit, as long as you're not so delusional as to be hurting yourself or others.) When the poop really hits the fan in my life, I've started telling myself, "at least I can write about this." It's my own version of coming up with a more positive way of seeing things.

Analysis of President Trump's 2020 State of the Union Address

Here I analyze President Trump’s State of the Union Address from February of 2020. I analyze political speeches through the lens of Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory. With Haidt’s Moral Foundations there are norms of harm/care and fairness/reciprocity, which are the two foundations through which liberal Democrats tend to analyze information.  Conservative Republicans tend to analyze information through those two along with ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. I created a scorecard and I analyzed the 2020 State of the Union speech using these moral foundations. Similarly, in 2018 I analyzed President Trump’s State of the Union address for Psychology Today (State of the Union 2018).

 

For harm/care and fairness/reciprocity, each had 15 instances of things the president said that fit into those categories. For ingroup/loyalty and authority/respect there were 4 instances in each of those categories and there were 9 instances for purity/sanctity. That shows the President and the President’s speechwriters were looking to give information that hit on the common ground between Democrats and Republicans.

 

Some examples of the harm/care foundation were when he discussed health care, prescription cost decreases, the opioid epidemic, and neonatal research. Examples of fairness/reciprocity were things like criminal justice reform and replacing NAFTA with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Three times President Trump discussed that as being fairness and reciprocity. He even used those terms, which clearly identified them in the fairness and reciprocity foundation for which he was looking to appeal. He also discussed our allies paying their fair share with NATO. Examples of ingroup/loyalty were his awarding the Medal of Honor to Rush Limbaugh, which played to his base of conservatives. His list of great Americans would also have done the same.

 

In the authority/respect foundation, he discussed military strength and immigration policies that he framed as needing to enforce and following laws. In the purity/sanctity category he emphasized the burden of illegal immigration on taxpayers as well as the issue of prayer and public schools.

 

One of the things I found fascinating in this speech compared to previous speeches is that there is more construal on the part of the audience. Construal means perception—it’s the way that we perceive something. Let’s take his discussion of the Alamo. The Alamo for conservative Republicans plays on the ingroup/loyalty foundation. For Democrats who may look at racial injustices and other views of history that they tend to take may look at that under the fairness/reciprocity foundation and see that as a negative. Clearly Republicans and Democrats are speaking different languages when it comes to moral foundations and its different than what we’ve seen in the past when you would find common ground in those two foundations. Its emblematic of the kind of group polarization we are seeing at this time in history between Republicans and Democrats.   

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Kurt Schlichter, author of "The 21 Biggest Lies about Donald Trump (and You!)"

 

The new book “The 21 Biggest Lies about Donald Trump (and You!)” is an essential read for any Trump voter who is constantly defending their support for the President. The author of the book, Kurt Schlichter, is a retired Army Infantry colonel, Senior Columnist for Townhall.com, protégé of Andrew Breitbart, and a Los Angeles trial lawyer. He is also the host of two podcasts: “Fighting Words” and “Unredacted.”

 

The book debunks 21 well-circulated myths about President Trump and his supporters, and does so with the fact-based, objective rebuttals that you would expect from a successful trial lawyer. This book makes the case that President Trump is not evil, not bigoted, and that he has highlighted the most fundamental elements of conservatism during his administration. It also makes the case that President Trump’s supporters are also not evil, bigoted, and have called for the most fundamental elements of conservatism over the more superfluous elements that the establishment GOP promoted for decades.

 

I had the opportunity to interview Colonel Schlichter about his book. Here is our discussion.

 

RM: Your latest book is an important resource to help defend Trump voters. Why is this book so important? Did you feel a responsibility to write it?

KS: People want to know they can fight back, and I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve from lawyering, the Army and comedy. But I feel no responsibility to do anything except be amusing.

 

RM: What are the two most important myths dispelled in your book?

KS: There’s really only one overarching one – that liberals are worth arguing with. They aren’t, because in their bizarre post-modern milieu truth is not objective. So why waste time arguing with people who literally cannot be argued with because to argue assumes the possibility of changing your mind. When you are simply saying whatever supports your narrative, that’s an alien concept.

 

RM: How is Andrew Breitbart’s influence on you woven into this book?

KS: Fight and refuse to consider them worthy of respect. They can only win if we submit. They thrive on their unearned position and the prestige they get by default. Deny them those and they freak out.

 

RM: Bill O’Reilly advises people not to talk about politics at work. Your book appears to be designed to prepare people to fight back rather than avoid conflict. What advice do you have for conservatives as they navigate workplaces and family dinners that might be politically treacherous?

KS: Never start a fight, but win it if it’s forced upon you. I don’t go pestering people about my views, until and unless they mess with me. Then go for it.

 

RM: From your perspective, how has Donald Trump forced a change in how the GOP engages in nation building through military action in foreign countries?

KS: The garbage foreign policy elite has not had a real success since the Wall fell. Their policy was an academic exercise that depended on patriotic Americans dying to try to make their lame theories come true. Trump simply placed American interests first, and that meant no new wars we did not need or intend to win.

 

RM: How do conservatives “normalize” conservatism again in the public sphere of media and the new cancel culture?

KS: Brute political force. We start with laws barring the social, cultural and economic discrimination against us in all the institutions. Those institutions that fail to conform must be destroyed.

 

RM: As an attorney, you famously defended Ben Shapiro against defamation claims made in the Texas “Clock Boy” incident that occurred in 2015.  What can we learn about the seeds of the current cancel culture from that moment in time?

KS: He tried to leverage legal power against Ben. That was dumb. He was in a venue where we could get a fair trial. The smart libs fight in venues (judicial and cultural) where they have the advantage and can win without regard to such bourgeois conceits as “facts” and “law.”

 

RM: My area of scientific expertise is attitudes and persuasion, and you served in the military and worked the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. Will you explain the difference between Information and Kinetic operations, and how that is applicable to what we see with the recent riots across the U. S.?

KS: Kinetic operations use force to generate effect. For example, bullets kill the enemy, hence no more enemy. Info ops use imagery and persuasion to create an effect by causing the target to take or forego an action. The riots were an info op designed to demoralize normal citizens and make them retreat from political participation by generating hopelessness and fear. But the violence the media helpfully depicted created the illusion that it was kinetic. They actually forced nothing – even the destruction they caused happened only because liberal mayors refused to unleash the cops, who could have shut it down in a flash.

 

RM: You run a business. How have the pandemic lock downs and mandates affected small business in California? What do you think of President Trump’s performance in leading the federal government through this?

KS: It’s a disaster for businesses that are brick and mortar, like restaurants. Interestingly, the pandemic accelerated the changes already in place thanks to technology by forcing companies to experiment with remote working. I would not want to be in commercial real estate right now. Business found out remote working generally works; it’s never going back to how it was with 95% of folks in an office.

 

I think Trump did fine. I think people are frustrated and don’t really understand that he’s the President and not Harry Potter. There’s no magic wand. The mistakes were at the state and municipal levels.

 

RM: What is the biggest current threat to American citizens?

KS: Democrats who do not believe that non-Democrats have any legitimate rights or interests. They risk causing open conflict because the rest of America is not simply going to shrug and accept serfdom.

 

RM: Why should someone spend their hard-earned money on your book? What value do they get from it?

KS: It’s hilarious, and I want money.

Review of the Clarence Thomas Movie "Created Equal"


Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” is a new documentary of the life of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The movie documents his rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most important legal minds of his generation. In his childhood, he was raised by his grandparents and followed very strict rules. During his time in college, he strayed away from being a conservative, only to gravitate back to conservatism.


Towards the end of the movie, Thomas discusses at length his experience as a Black conservative and how that does not fit with people’s stereotypes of what he should and should not believe. Those reflections are fascinating because they touch on several different psychological themes. Prejudice is a negative attitude against a group of people. The cognitive component of prejudice is called a stereotype. The discrimination component is the behavioral aspect of the prejudiced attitude. The experience of Justice Thomas as a Black conservative, violating other people’s stereotypes, leads to a phenomenon called subtyping. Subtyping occurs when we see someone who does not fit with our belief of what someone in a group should act like and we recategorize them and classify them as something different from a member of that group. Someone who deviates from a stereotype and is welcomed into another group gets subtyped. The other group members might say “You’re not like the rest of them,” whatever the stereotyped outgroup may be. In this case, most Democrats perceive the stereotypes of “Black” and “Conservative” as conflicting.


We see regular subtyping of conservatives when it comes to different ethnic groups. For example, Nikki Haley, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Devin Nunes, and Tim Scott are all current leaders and thought shapers in the Republican Party, and all are ethnic minorities. Similarly, all are dismissed by many as not being representative of their ethnic groups. By dismissing their ethnicity, Democrats and others ignore the diversity of thought of any social category. Outgroup homogeneity is a social psychological phenomenon where all of the people in the outgroup are perceived to be the same while ingroup members are celebrated for their diverse range of ideas and individual differences. Thus, many Democrats view these Republican minorities not as ethnic minorities, but as Republicans, and discount the great diversity of the GOP.  This is the context to Joe Biden’s recent statement “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” Biden is featured prominently in the film as he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 and led the opposition to the nomination of Justice Thomas.


In the past we have seen this subtyping of Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, and J. C. Watts (from my home state of Oklahoma). We see it with conservative commentators as well. Stacy Washington, Candace Owens, Diamond & Silk, and Dinesh D’Souza are some of the minority commentators who are regularly viewed as not representing their groups because they have ideas that deviate from the stereotype of what their ethnic group members might hold.


The Clarence Thomas documentary is fascinating and worth looking at through a social psychological lens of prejudice, outgroup homogeneity, and subtyping.   

Microbiologists Discuss SARS-CoV-2

I recently interviewed two microbiologists about the basics of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. You may read that interview at the Oklahoma Academy of Science webpage (link below) or on the Articles and Chapters section of my website.

  

https://www.oklahomaacademyofscience.org/covid-19-in-ok.html

Vicarious Living: NPR Hidden Brain Podcast

A recent NPR Hidden Brain Podcast examined how people gain satisfaction from watching other people do things that they wish they were doing themselves. The episode is “Close Enough: The Lure of Living Through Others” (aired March 30, 2020, originally aired in 2019). In addition to interviews with a handful of people about living vicariously through videos and imagination, the episode features an interview with Dr Ed O’Brien. O’Brien is an experimental social psychologist at the University of Chicago and discusses his research on mental simulations. Though the episode does a good job of creating an entertaining narrative and highlighting O’Brien’s fascinating research, it lacks a discussion of the concepts of vicarious learning, perspective taking, empathy, and mirror neurons. Still, it is worth listening to the episode. You can listen to the episode, read the transcript, or read a summary of the episode below:

Click here for the episode

The Landscape and Recent History of Conservative Media in the United States

When I was a kid, every day we had an old black and silver radio in the kitchen. We ate breakfasts, lunches, and dinners together as a family and listened to the radio for the first two meals of the day. Eventually TVs became affordable enough to have more than one in the house, so we put a small one in the kitchen when I was a teenager. For many years of my childhood, fellow Oklahoman Paul Harvey captured my attention with his greeting of “Stand by for news” and signed my lunches off with “Paul Harvey, Good Day!” And of course, Harvey’s The Rest of the Story radio segments and books were family favorites. I was listening to the forerunner of a modern conservative media explosion of talk radio, cable television, podcasts, and websites. 

 

The Fairness Doctrine Era

At the time I was listening to Paul Harvey on the radio, the Fairness Doctrine was in place. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to present both sides of a public issue. The Fairness Doctrine was in effect from 1949 until Ronald Reagan had it repealed in 1987. During this this time period, conservative giant William F. Buckley was the strongest conservative voice, having founded National Review in 1955. Buckley’s TV show Firing Line ran from 1966-1999 and he also wrote the classic books God and Man at Yale (1951) and Up from Liberalism (1959).

 

The Classics of the New Era

The year after the Fairness Doctrine was repealed, Rush Limbaugh’s radio show became nationally syndicated in 1988, but had been in Sacramento since 1984. Limbaugh had a popular TV show that was produced by Roger Ailes from 1992-1996. His TV show warmed conservative audiences up for the launch of Fox News in 1996, for which Roger Ailes was the first CEO. Britt Hume, who had served for 23 years at ABC News and as the chief White House Correspondent from 1989-1996, and Bill O’Reilly, who had served at both CBS and ABC News, gave Fox News immediate legitimacy.

 

Bill O’Reilly hosted The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News from 1996-2017. Sean Hannity started at Fox News in 1996 with Hannity & Colmes and maintains his TV show Hannity as well as his popular radio show The Sean Hannity Show. Laura Ingraham’s radio show ran from 2001-2018 and her Fox News show The Ingraham Angle has run since 2017.

 

Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes operated The Weekly Standard from 1995-2018. The neo-conservative publication faltered with conservative audiences after Donald Trump’s 2016 election and Bill Kristol’s Never Trump position.

 

Matt Drudge created The Drudge Report website in 1995. One of his staff members, Andrew Breitbart, went on to found Breitbart.com in 2005. Breitbart’s site helped launch the conservative media careers of several notables including Dana Loesch, Larry O’Connor, Ben Shapiro, and Kurt Schlichter.

 

Glenn Beck’s radio show launched in 2000 with national syndication following in 2002. His TV show ran on CNN (2006-2008) and Fox News (2009-2011). He launched his own independent media platform The Blaze in 2011.

 

Larry Elder’s show has been around since the early 1990’s, morphing back and forth from TV to Radio.

 

The Best of the Neophytes

The Federalist was founded in 2013 and includes the notable Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway. Townhall.com was founded in 1995 and has had a resurgence in the past few years, with notable writers Katie Pavlich, Larry O’Connor, and Kurt Schlichter. RedState.com was founded in 2004 and has also seen a recent surge of popularity. Conservative Review was founded in 2014 and is now owned by Blaze Media, with Mark Levin as the editor. Levin’s radio show has been aired since 2002 and his Fox News TV show since 2017.

 

The Dispatch was founded in 2019 by former National Review writer Jonah Goldberg and features Senior Editor David French, also a former National Review writer. The Dispatch leans more towards libertarians and Never Trumpers. The Hill was founded in 1994 and features Joe Concha. The Washington Examiner was founded in 2005 and features Byron York as the Chief Political Correspondent.

 

There are several new conservative leaning TV networks. One America News was founded in 2013 and features Alex Salvi and Graham Ledger. Newsmax started as a website in 1998 and launched its TV channel Newsmax TV in 2014, recently adding Sean Spicer to their lineup.

 

There are many conservative personalities that have podcasts of their radio shows, or just stand-alone podcasts. Ben Shapiro of The Daily Wire hosts The Ben Shapiro Show. Ted Cruz and Michael Knowles host The Verdict, which became the number one podcast in America when it launched during the Senate Impeachment Hearings in January of 2020. Stacy Washington’s Stacy on The Right podcast is also growing in popularity.

 

These conservative media outlets offer a wide variety of perspectives and differing views on many issues. The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 created an opportunity for conservatives to test their ideas in the marketplace. Platforms such as radio, television, independent websites, YouTube channels, internet radio, and podcasts have all allowed conservatives a chance to be heard and to display a range of voices. 

 

Further Reading

Hanson, V. D. (2020, February 11). Limbaugh: A genius at radio National Review (online).

Mather, R. D. (2016, June 3). Fox News and American politics since 1994. Psychology Today (online).

Mather, R. D. (2016, December 20). God and man on AM Radio. Psychology Today (online).

Rosenwald, B. (2019). Talk radio’s America: How an industry took over a political party that took over the United States. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

COVID-19 and Concepts from Social Psychology: Emotional Contagion, Social Dilemma, and Psychological Reactance

 

There are several social psychological concepts that are relevant to the current COVID-19 Pandemic. Here I will discuss emotional contagion, social dilemmas, and psychological reactance.

 

Emotional contagion: The rapid spread of emotions through a social network or crowd. For example, in 1938 Orson Welles did a radio broadcast of War of the Worlds that frightened people across the nation. People heard the broadcast of an alien invasion and panicked. Some called the police, who were also panicking in some places. The fear spread from person to person. During this pandemic, the spread of fear has been on display for several weeks.


Social Dilemma: A conflict where what is in the best interest of individuals is different than what is in the best interests of the collective group.  Voluntary watering restrictions is an example. When a town goes on voluntary watering restrictions, it is in each person’s best interests for everyone else to limit their water usage while that person waters the heck out of their lawn that now looks even better compared to the lawns of their neighbors. But if everyone does that, the water supply will drop and the town will have mandatory restrictions. That’s exactly what happens, and city planners take the rapid increase of consumption into account when they declare voluntary watering restrictions. They know that they will quickly get to the mandatory restriction level with the new surge of usage. With the pandemic, it is in everyone’s short-sighted individual interests to carry on with life and let other people worry about self-quarantines. However, it is in the best interest of the collective group for social distancing and self-quarantines to limit the spread of COVID-19.


Psychological reactance: When people believe a freedom is being taken from them, they respond by performing the thing they think they aren’t supposed to do. One study sought to solve a graffiti problem and used two different signs. One said, “Do not write on these walls under any circumstances.” The other said, “Please do not write on these walls.” Two weeks later there was more graffiti on the wall of the first sign than of the second (and more graffiti on the first actual sign, too!). People are ornery suckers, and don’t take being told what to do all that well. That’s why many people, predicting large restrictions to their freedoms coming at the city, state, and federal levels, have defiantly increased their social contact with others during this pandemic.

The Psychology of Quarantine: Social Media to the Rescue!

Given the recent COVID-19 Pandemic, it is an appropriate time to review the research on the psychological impact quarantines. Quarantines differ from isolation. Quarantines restrict people who are potentially exposed to the contagion in order to protect others. Isolation separates those who have been infected by the contagion to protect those who have not. Here I will discuss quarantines.

 

In Lancet on March 14thof 2020, Brooks et al. (2020) published a review of 24 psychological studies of quarantine. They reviewed research from outbreaks of SARS, Ebola, H1N1, Middle East respiratory syndrome, and equine influenza. They suggested that the collective benefits of quarantine must be calculated along with the potential psychological costs when deciding to mandate quarantine. This should apply to both mandated quarantine and self-quarantine.

 

One study of hospital staff found quarantine was more predictive of stress disorders than staff who had not been quarantined. Compared to non-quarantined staff, quarantined staff had increased exhaustion, detachment, anxiety, irritability, and worse concentration after their quarantine. Another study showed that quarantine predicted post-traumatic stress symptoms in quarantined hospital staff three years later. A separate study found post-traumatic symptoms increased post-quarantine for both children and parents, with a 400% increase in symptoms for quarantined children over non-quarantined children.

 

A study of college students found no differences on post-traumatic symptoms or mental health problems between quarantined and non-quarantined students. This is good news for college students in a quarantine!

 

One study of 1656 quarantined individuals found small percentages of anxiety (7%) and anger (17%) during the quarantine, but the symptoms nearly disappeared 4-6 months later (3% anxiety, 6% anger).

 

Three years after SARS, healthcare workers who had been quarantined were more likely to abuse alcohol.

 

In general, quarantine does change behavior. After a quarantine, people are more likely to avoid people who are coughing or sneezing, avoid crowded places that are enclosed, and avoid all public spaces for several weeks.

 

A history of psychiatric illness increases the level of quarantine related anxiety 4-6 months post-quarantine.

 

Overall, here is what you can expect to experience in a quarantine.

--The longer the quarantine, the worse the deterioration in mental health, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and anger. Avoidance behaviors increase with length of quarantine.

 

--Increased sense of boredom, frustration, and sense of isolation.

 

--If supplies are inadequate, this increases frustration during the quarantine and predicts increased anxiety and anger 4-6 months post-quarantine.

 

--If information from health officials in inadequate, fear increases. Individuals who perceive compliance with the quarantine as difficult are the most likely to experience post-traumatic stress symptoms after the quarantine.

 

--The more financial loss the person experiences from the quarantine, the more anger, anxiety and other psychological disorder symptoms they experience months later. This disproportionately affects lower income people more than higher income people.

 

--Quarantined people report experiencing stigma in their local neighborhoods if they have been targeted for mandated quarantine. They face withdrawn social invitations, fear, and criticism. This is increased when media coverage features dramatic negative headlines, which occurred during the SARS outbreak.

 

Based on the research, the top two things you can do during a quarantine to reduce the psychological impact:

 

--Frame it as an altruistic act that helps other people.

 

--Remain active in your social network.

 

A quarantine highlights one of the most important elements of social media—social connection that can occur remotely. Take advantage of your social media and stay connected. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself in a quarantine AND it helps other people, which helps you too!

 

Reference

Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., & Rubin, G. J. (2020), The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: Rapid review of the evidence. Lancet, 395, 912-920.

 

The Utility of Lying: NPR Hidden Brain Podcast

A recent podcast of an older interview with psychological scientist Dr. Dan Areily from March 2017 (NPR Hidden Brain Podcast, February 17, 2020) is fascinating. Areily outlines the general findings of his extensive experimental research about lying.

 

His work highlights the fact that people tend to behave honestly as a default, following moral norms. He gives examples of people who call restaurants to pay when they have forgotten to do so, and in other work he has discussed how the honor system is sometimes more effective for inducing compliance than a system that is punitive.

 

Another finding is that opportunity is one of the largest determinants of whether someone lies or cheats at something, with escalation of commitment as the mechanism that can lead a person to deeply break rules. He gives an example of a man who started out with an injury which led to a progressive chain of small commitments that resulted in that man being arrested for drug trafficking. As we have seen in the Milgram conformity experiments, it is easy to end up at an extreme when you have a track record of accepting small requests. If I flipped the last 10 switches, why wouldn’t I flip the next one?

 

Based on his empirical research, Areily proposes that we should induce an honesty mindset from the beginning of a process. Thus, it implies that we should have the oath statements of “I swear to tell the whole truth, so help me God” at beginning of the process rather than swearing confirmation of facts at the end. That induces a mindset of honesty that colors the entire transaction. I suggest that both are useful.

 

He also discussed the usefulness of self-deception, while acknowledging that there are consequences. For him, as a severe burn victim, self-deception played a role in his successful recovery.

 

Perhaps the most interesting is his finding that it’s not risk takers or intelligent people who cheat more. It’s creative people who cheat more because “Cheating is all about being able to tell a story about why what we want is actually OK.”

Super Tuesday 2020 NBC Exit Poll Shows Large Differences Between Biden and Sanders Voters

In May of 2016, Kurt Jefferson and I published “The Authoritarian Voter? The Psychology and Values of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders Support” (see link below). In that article, we outlined the evidence that the core supporters for both candidates were high on authoritarianism. Thus, authoritarian values had emerged from the populist voting behaviors of both the left and right. Currently, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the front runners for the Democratic nomination and the right to face Donald Trump. Sanders voters are consistently cast as being inflexible and uncompromising—authoritarian.

Last night, NBC News released a Super Tuesday exit poll that compared the answers of voters for Biden and Sanders.

Question: Which candidate quality mattered most in deciding who to vote for?

Answers:

Can unite country: Biden voters 50%, Sanders voters 17%

Can bring change: Biden voters 24%, Sanders voters 49%

Cares about me: Biden voters 18%, Sanders voters 23%

Is a fighter: Biden voters 4%, Sanders voters 7%

NBC reported that Elizabeth Warren voters gave a pattern of answers similar to those of Sanders voters. Clearly, Biden voters are more focused on unification while Sanders voters are more focused on creating change. These two factors will be important to watch as the winner emerges and coalitions are built or not built.

 

“The Authoritarian Voter? The Psychology and Values of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders Support”

http://socialautomaticity.net/images/JSP_May_2016.pdf

 

NBC News Super Tuesday Exit Poll from 03-03-2020

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/live-blog/2020-super-tuesday-live-updates-14-states-hold-primaries-n1146871/ncrd1148966#liveBlogHeader

Election 2020 and Lessons from 2015

Prior to the historic 2016 U.S. Presidential election, Kristen Soltis Anderson published The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials Are Leading America (And How Republicans Can Keep Up). The author of the book was a young, seasoned public opinion pollster and data analytics guru. I heard her speak at the Council of Graduate Schools in December of 2017 and met her briefly. Since that time she now appears regularly on Fox News and provides insightful political commentary.

The Selfie Vote is a data-based guide to the behaviors and preferences of millenials (those born in the 1980’s and 1990’s) as of 2015. It compared that generation to previous generations and noted the strategic deficiencies of the Republicans in the 2012 election, where the Democrats had a cutting edge analytics strategy and platform to match it. The book preceded the 2016 election, and it was obvious that the 2016 election had Republican infrastructure and strategies that had been responsive to those prior deficiencies. For example, President Trump’s team masterfully used social media in the campaign. 

The issues facing millenials at that time were many, and they had particularly important views and behaviors with regard to maternity leave, starting a company, student loan debt, morality and religion, sex, drugs, and urbanization. The Selfie Vote covered data on their opinions towards all of these and how it fit with other generations and what Republicans needed to change in their platform to be successful. For instance, millenials of both parties trend towards being accepting of gay marriage and find it to be a non-issue for them, unlike many voters in the early 2000’s. However, because it is a non-issue for so many of the millenials, it becomes an issue if someone opposes it and actually washes out all other issues. Opposing gay marriage turns most millenials into one-issue voters who will not support that candidate even if the candidate supports all of the other issues the voter supports. But supporting gay marriage doesn’t help candidates appeal to most millenials, because supporting gay marriage is a given to most millenials. The viability of the GOP will be determined by how this issue is handled. With religion declining in the United States, I argue that the viability of churches will also be determined by their stance on the issue of gay marriage. 

Just as it was interesting to see how many of her strategies were implemented in 2016, it is also interesting to see how Election 2020 plays out in the context of her predictions and proposed strategies. Millenials are now 5 years older than when the book was written, so they face slightly different issues and no doubt have slightly different perspectives. Still, there is no reason to believe that millenials have fundamentally changed since 2015.  

If you get a chance, take a look at The Selfie Vote and keep an eye on the upcoming election. 

Podcast Interview from Spring of 2017

In this post-2016 election interview, I discussed political group polarization, free speech, disseminating science to the general population, student loan programs, performance versus mastery goals, parenting, corrections, and evolutionary psychology.

From Wednesday, 06-07-17

muditious podcast #14, interviewed by Jesus Ramones

http://www.muditious.com/podcast

 

Personal Blog Introduction

Welcome to my personal website blog. Keep an eye on this website as I add content. To read my blog at Psychology Today (since 2016), follow the link below: